Williamson Co. lawyer accused of not representing clients
WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - You hire an attorney, pay thousands of dollars in fees and wait to have your day in court. What if that day never comes?
That's what happened to seven southern Illinois families who all have the same thing in common.
They all hired the same Marion attorney. A man with a well-known name now facing the very real possibility he'll never practice law again.
"He ruined me to where the statute of limitations has run out. I can't do nothing. I'm done," Pete Homoya said in frustration.
Homoya's talking about his former attorney, Josh Bradley.
According to Bradley's professional website, he's practiced law for more than ten years and handled cases in every southern Illinois county. Now, Bradley's on the verge of losing his law license.
A 10-count complaint filed with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission alleges he failed to represent seven clients over four years, including Pete Homoya.
"I went to his brother first," Homoya said.
Back in 2010, Homoya said he went to State Representative John Bradley with a problem.
IDOT promised him a signal intersection near his Crainville property along Route 13, but never put one in. He recalled the Marion Democrat suggesting he get a lawyer.
Homoya and his girlfriend, Angie Rains, decided to hire one with a familiar name.
"He'd been in Marion a long time," Rains said of Josh Bradley. "He worked up in White County too, I think."
After Bradley took his case in the spring of 2010, Homoya took to his diary to detail every step, and he quickly found that included efforts to reach the lawyer he was paying.
"Went to Josh Bradley's attorney's office," Homoya read from the diary he kept in 2010.
So this was you going in again and trying to get a hold of him, right, we asked.
"Oh yeah. Most of this....here's where I called him again," Homoya said.
These entries would actually turn up in the state's complaint against Bradley. How Bradley told Homoya he'd been in touch with IDOT; that he'd reached out to his brother, a state representative, about the case and how Homoya would receive a six-figure settlement.
On the day of that expected payout, Homoya said Bradley took him into this office and locked the door.
"He said, 'Pete, you have to do something for me.' I said, 'I've got to do something for you?' 'Yeah, you need to get an attorney and sue me because I've malpracticed and there's never been no offer.'"
As for his case...
"It had been dismissed for almost two years. And I knew nothing about this," Homoya said. "I really had a lot of confidence in Mr. Bradley."
Kathy Wheaton is the fifth client named in the complaint against Bradley, and the person who brought this case to our attention.
On May 6, 2011, Wheaton's mother, Crettie Batson, was laid to rest at the Dutch Ridge cemetery near Pomona.
Three days after that, her children say she was exhumed after being buried in the wrong vault.
"My husband actually was the one that saw her casket out on the ground. And she was a wonderful woman," said daughter Karen Hicks, choking back tears. "She deserved better than that."
Wheaton and her family hired Josh Bradley. Not to sue the funeral home, but to get peace of mind their mother was laid back to rest correctly.
"Just sonar the grave. Let us see our mother. Let us know that everything is fine," said Wheaton.
But, like Pete Homoya, Kathy Wheaton said she had a hard time getting in touch with her attorney.
"Days would pass. I hadn't heard. I would try again," she said.
After a failed mediation try, the case headed to the Appellate Court. Wheaton thought they would finally get some answers. Then she got a call from a state investigator.
"And just to be notified, quite unexpectedly, that our case had been dropped and dismissed and that our attorney was under investigation, it was very devastating for me," Wheaton said.
Do you think he was ever truthful with you, we asked Pete Homoya and Angie Rains.
"No," Rains answered.
"No," Homoya said a moment later. "Nope. Not at all."
These former Bradley clients planned to travel to Springfield this week for his hearing, but a recently filed motion stopped them in their tracks.
Bradley would admit he "failed to diligently represent seven clients," and accepted a two year suspension of his law license.
"I thought he should have lost it for a lot longer than that for sure. And we should have had a say in that decision of two years."
"To me that's just a mind thing. Two years? And he's taken the answer that we've been....we're going to have to live with this for the rest of our life."
"As far as Mr. Bradley's concerned, I don't care if he practices law again. Actually, it would probably be a good thing that he didn't."
Representative Bradley sent us a statement on this story that reads in part:
"I am praying for my brother and those bringing allegations against him. I am not affiliated or apprised of his business or personal matters."
We found out what Josh Bradley's facing is pretty rare. Of the 95,000 licensed attorneys in Illinois, just 19 faced the same suspension in 2014.
A hearing board will decide whether to accept that punishment on Friday, June 19.
We'll be sure and let you know what happens.
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